As always, thanks for checking out this feature about Sting’s transformation from 1996 through 1998. It’s been a lot of fun reviewing this period and reliving it over these six parts. Check out VoicesofWrestling.com to revisit any of the previous five installments in case you missed them or just want a refresher.
In part five published last week, I wrote solely about Starrcade 1997 and all the controversial elements of that lightning rod of a pay-per-view. It’s safe to say that it left a lot of people (including Sting himself) with a bad taste in their mouths, but one of the better things about pro wrestling (depending on your perspective) is the fact there’s always a new show just hours away.
So, how did WCW steer the ship in wake of Sting’s win over Hollywood Hulk Hogan? He reclaimed the WCW World Heavyweight Championship with help from Bret Hart and the last sight we saw was of the entire WCW roster cerebrating in the ring.
December 29, 1997
Hulk Hogan whines about losing and blames Bret Hart for costing him the championship. What results? Why, a rematch of course!
Yes, the night after the biggest match in WCW history on the biggest show in their history, they come right back with the same match for free. The Monday Night War everybody!
However, it’s not that simple. The match goes longer than the time available in the show and they simply end Nitro during the championship match.
January 5, 1998
The reason they cut the match off when they went off the air was because WCW wanted to promote the debut episode of THUNDER (Thursday, January 8 on TBS). So, on the first Nitro of the new year, the story told is that Sting’s the champion and footage of the rematch is in the possession of a judge after the episode went off the air due to time constraints. It would be made available on the Thunder premiere days later. You absolutely have to love when judges and the U.S. legal system is thrown into pro wrestling storylines.
Aside from the controversy surrounding the big gold belt, the nWo is conflicted with infighting at the end of the show, while Luger & Sting stand tall in the ring.
Yes, nothing significant is done with Bret Hart (I imagine this would be similar to DDP getting his ass kicked in 1997 in terms of how many times you can use that sentence for most of Bret’s WCW run).
January 8, 1998
Oh. My. God.
These people have no clue what they’re doing.
The nicest thing you could say is the money was in Sting chasing the gold and nWo, so they didn’t want him to have a long run as champion.
The worst you may say is that backstage politics threw a wrench in logical booking and with tons of hands in the cookie jar, it was too easy to go off course.
*Remember, this is footage of the title match from DECEMBER 28* – Referee Randy Anderson is incapacitated and Sting gets Hogan to submit. But Nick Patrick comes out, allowing Hogan to secure the three count on Sting. Then, Anderson disposes of his cobwebs and Sting once again gets Hogan to submit, while Randy calls it. Match over, right? Nope.
Sting is stripped of the WCW championship.
Skipping to Superbrawl 8 (February 22, 1998)
Sting beats Hogan to win the WCW championship again.
But, he loses it two months later at Spring Stampede (April 19) to Macho Man. Naturally, the gold goes right back to Hogan the following night when Bret Hart turns heel and helps him.
The one positive was this allowed Goldberg to have his famous title win over Hogan at the Georgia Dome on Nitro (which created one of the most memorable Nitro moments ever). Yep, the big match was thrown away for free.
Do you really want to know when the next time the WCW title was defended on PPV? You must go ALL THE WAY to October (Halloween Havoc) when Goldberg defended it by beating DDP. While modern day WWE tends to go out of their way to kick dirt on their title, they still at least have actual championship matches on their pay-per-views every month.
Stop me if you heard this one already. Goldberg, the undefeated phenomenon which WCW stumbled upon, was beaten at Starrcade ’98 in December by booker Kevin Nash. What happened the following week on Nitro?
YOU GUESSED IT!
Hulk Hogan got the belt right back with the infamous finger poke of doom.
Just wow, you cannot do anything except shake your head at such ridiculousness. Mind you, during all of this nonsense, WWF was the top promotion in the country (RAW beat Nitro in April ’98 for the first time in more than a year and eventually began to pull away).
To sum it all up:
The number of days Sting held the WCW championship between Starrcade 97 and the end of 1998?
The number of days Hulk Hogan held the WCW championship in 1998?
My, oh my. No wonder most remember the majority of Sting’s storyline in 1997 so fondly – almost everything afterwards involving him was utter crap.
Unfortunately, that ends Sting’s transformation from 1996 to 1998 and while there’s a healthy dose of negativity here, remember that the man remains an active wrestler to this very day, some 15 years later. However insane that fact may be, there remains at least a small possibility he may finally end up in WWE to have an epic Wrestlemania showdown with The Undertaker.
While some aspects of his original crow story developed into ordinary wacky WCW booking, perhaps he can add a new chapter to his incredible career. If the long awaited dream match can come to fruition, prepare for a fun build and insane environment in New Orleans. If not, you can always check him out on Impact Wrestling as a member of the Main Event Mafia.
Thanks for reading and continue reading/listening/following VoicesofWrestling.com!